Information on Desktop Computers

By Keith Evans

Desktop computers often require external peripherals.
i Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Desktop computers brought computing power to small businesses and private homes. Though these machines proliferated during the 1980s and 1990s, they are the result of a long history of technological innovation.


Development of desktop computers, according to the PC History organization, stemmed from the 1971 introduction of the microprocessor. By 1975, desktop computers appeared in Popular Electronics magazine, and the Apple II made desktops accessible to home users in 1977. The IBM Personal Computer, or PC, accelerated the proliferation in 1981, and the architecture of the PC set the standard for subsequent desktop computer generations.


Desktop computers typically feature a mother board, processor, random access memory (RAM), a number of function-specific cards and at least one hard drive contained inside a metal case. Typical peripherals include a keyboard, mouse, monitor and printer.


The size and relatively low cost of desktop computers make computer applications and Internet access available to home and small business users. Compared to laptop computers, larger desktop machines allow users to more easily upgrade the devices with larger, less-expensive components.


Though desktop computers have a number of benefits over laptops, the devices are often large and not easily moved between locations. Many desktop computers also require an external monitor and input devices, though some all-in-one computers integrate these peripherals.